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Dead officer’s phone exposes racism, Islamophobia, misogyny among Gwent Police

25th Nov 2022
Dead officer’s phone exposes racism, Islamophobia, misogyny among Gwent Police

Gwent Police HQ (Credit: Jaggery/Creative Commons)

Hamed Chapman

An external investigation has been launched into the “toxic culture” of racism, Islamophobia, and misogyny shared by Gwent Police that was found on an officer’s phone after his death.

Gwent Police’s Chief Constable, Pam Kelly, announced that Wiltshire Police is conducting an independent investigation on behalf of the force into the “abhorrent” content and any officers identified as “having breached either professional standards or the criminal threshold will be held accountable.”

Messages, including such grotesque Islamophobic images as those regarding the incident of the Grenfell Tower fire titled ‘The Great Muslim Bakeoff’ and of former Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, posting a letter through the eye area of a woman in a burka, were found sent or received on a phone belonging to the policeman, Ricky Jones, by his daughter following his death in January 2020.

“The content we have been made aware of is abhorrent, and any officers identified by the investigation as having breached either professional standards or the criminal threshold will be held accountable,” Kelly insisted in a statement sent to The Muslim News.

Racist images also included the new royal baby, with messages further showing serving and retired officers discussing sexual harassment of junior female colleagues, homophobic jibes, and officers offering to illegally hide money, according to the Sunday Times, which first disclosed the daughter’s discovery.

The Muslim Council of Wales spokesman told The Muslim News that they were “deeply concerned” at the revelation of racist and Islamophobic messages,” and that the fact that “such horrific and bigoted views were held by a person in authority within the police is extremely disturbing.”

Up until his death, Jones had been a policeman for 26 years, mostly with Gwent Police, which, according to Cymru Online, has been at the centre of allegations about behaviour within its ranks for several years, including former Chief Inspector, Paul Staniforth, and acting Assistant Chief Constable, Mark Budden, both now barred from policing.
Kelly said that over the past three years, Gwent police have “worked hard to make sure that our colleagues are clear about the high standard of professional behaviour we, and the public, expect from them.”

“The recent dismissal of three senior officers reflects our commitment to pursue and hold accountable those who let us all down, and we will continue to challenge unacceptable behaviour in court or through the independently chaired disciplinary process,” she said.

The former chief crown prosecutor for the northwest of England, Nazir Afzal, who has been supporting Jones’ family, has expressed serious concerns about “industrial levels of abuse, racism, and potential corruption” in Gwent police that he fears could be much more widespread.

“Given how this came to light by complete chance, clearly this leaves us with the terrible thought that this is prevalent everywhere. There needs to be a public inquiry into police culture nationally — it requires a wholesale root-and-branch approach,” Afzal said.

The Muslim Council of Wales said: “We support the calls of Nazir Afzal for a national public inquiry so that it can bring about greater understanding of police forces, but more importantly, the cultural change that is so fundamentally needed.”

 

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Editorial: Toxic culture of Islamophobia feared among police nationally

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Over 120 people attended a landmark conference on the media reporting of Islam and Muslims. It was held jointly by The Muslim News and Society of Editors in London on September 15.

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The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

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